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Selling Us Up the River, or, What Will Failure LOOK Like?

Posted Apr 01 2010 12:00am

I recently received a phone call from someone who explained to me the process of looking into a new placement for Georgia. It made me feel edgy. A little defensive. I knew it would happen that once we got even more involved with other people who are partly responsible for Georgia's care (and she has partly been under the care of other people since day one, let's face it), that the process would get more involved. There's ALWAYS a process. There's always a team. It often feels like a project. I also knew it would be harder for me to "be okay" with the fact that Georgia is not just inherently granted the same rights as her peers. The right to be included with (and not just in) a classroom with everyone else.

The thing is, at this point, it is NOT a right. I hope to be a part of a movement to MAKE it a right, but for now, it's a process. Debated by more people than you might like to think.

I am trying to remain calm about it, but of course I am worried. What I am asking for, I feel, should be rather simple. I want my daughter included. I want, simply, for them to give her a chance. Let's set her up to excel rather than stay stagnant or fall backwards in her skills. I also recognize that most of these people we are dealing with (I have to believe for sanity's sake) are on our side. That they have G's best interests in mind. I am no dummy, I know there are probably plenty of differing philosophies, I also know there are small (dwindling?) budgets. I know that the mere fact that she HAS the opportunity to have a free education at a young age is...for all intents and purposes, a favor to us. It's a foggy process though, and I often feel parents are kept somewhat confused and uninformed on purpose. It doesn't help anyone to be cynical, but it does feel that way.

A few days ago I had a dream that Georgia and I were floating down a river naked in a canoe. We were both laying down on our sides hip to hip. In fact, I think she may have actually BECOME my leg (a part of me an all that) and as we were floating down the river people along the sides of the river were either brushing, fanning, or beating us with these large palm fronds. It was our job to take it. We were not allowed to complain. Some of them were nice to us (the fanners), some wanted to at least scare or test us (the brushers), and others were downright beating us. In my dream-state, I knew that this was some kind of judgment. They were trying to see if we were worthy. I felt very vulnerable, of course exposed, and angry. Do it to me, I remember feeling, but LEAVE HER OUT OF IT!

When I awoke I knew the dream had to do with this whole procedure. It's been on my mind a lot.

At church on Sunday I was talking with a friend. She also has a daughter with DS, younger than G. My friend is also a spirited art teacher with a background in special ed. She was asking how the process was going and I explained that we were in a waiting period while they observed Georgia (part of the process to see if she is "ready" for the inclusion classroom) and I mentioned that I want to make an informed decision. I don't want to set Georgia up for failure. That is when she said something to me that I actually had already realized (but apparently forgotten) in therapy last week. (Yes, I talk a lot about the kids in therapy.)

What, in this instance, will failure even LOOK like? Why not let Georgia rise to the top, give her the chance to anyway, rather than sink to the bottom? The worst failure in this situation...what would it look like? Perhaps she doesn't meet her goals? Perhaps, she could regress or be left in the dust? Those are serious things for sure, but she could not meet her goals in the segregated classroom. She could regress there as well. So why not push her a little? I don't want to be the one holding her back.

I don't want to not give her wings for fear that she won't learn to fly because she'll NEVER learn to fly if I don't give her the wings.

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